Zimmerman plays well in loss

LEWISTOWN — Just a day after surrendering a goal in the game’s first five minutes and having its weaknesses exposed, Mifflin County bounced back — at least defensively — Tuesday afternoon.

The offense, though, is something that needs a little bit of work as the Huskies fell to Lower Dauphin, 1-0, in Mid-Penn Keystone boys soccer.

The Falcons challenged the Huskies early and often, and the defense didn’t disappoint any.

Led in large by goalkeeper Connner Zimmerman and his 14 saves in the contest, the Falcons had every sort of attack snuffed out for much of the 80 minutes.

Zimmerman wasn’t alone, though, as he got by with a lot of help from his teammates Hunter Eckley, Zach Burke and Jacob Treaster on defense.

“Jake Treaster stepped up really big for us today,” Mifflin County coach Bob Lepleysaid. “We asked him to play a lot of minutes and there were a lot of things on his agenda that we needed him to accomplish and he did really well. Having Hunter and Zach behind him really helps, too, because they’re very good defenders.”

The four hung tough through the first 50 minutes, but something was bound to give.

That something came in the form of a cross pass from Blake Cassel to Bryce Hickey that drew the defense from right to left and Cassel taking advantage of it, getting a good shot off to the right side of goal.

“We played a full 80 minutes, and that’s especially great after playing just yesterday,” Leply said. “I can’t credit these kids enough. Their heart, dedication and the grit they showed through today’s game is just unbelievable.”

It’s not as if the Falcons couldn’t muster any offensive attack. Afterall, they did get 19 shots on goal. They just couldn’t get anything past the brick wall that was Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was all over the place, diving for saves, jumping for grabs, coming out the box and disrupting the Falcons’ passing game. He also read the Falcons’ attack on corner kicks well, getting in the way of every single cross pass.

Much of that wouldn’t have been possible without some of his biggest help switching positions and creating an opening at goalkeeper for the freshman to play.

“Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about Conner,” Lepley said. “He’s just unbelievable with the progress he’s made. Keep in mind, he played junior high soccer in the spring of last year. We threw him in and Zach Burke made a good move for the team and wanted to play center-back for us since he was experienced there.

“Zach made the move for the team and we put Conner in there and he’s just showing off his true skill set. Who knows what will happen for him moving forward. He has a lot of room to grow, but he’s done very well for us.”

The defensive dominance in front of the goal had the Falcons’ coaching staff clearly frustrated as they couldn’t do anything with their offensive power in the box.

As for the other side of the field, the Huskies continued to struggle doing anything offensively. They got off three shots in the entire contest and never could establish much of a threat.

Lepley was more pleased with the team’s offensive attack, but knows there is still work to be done.

“These Mid-Penn teams, their center-back’s are their rock,” Lepley said. “Their defenses are incredible. … We had an improvement against them, and took the most of our opportunities and it means we created a little better opportunities up the middle.”

Mifflin County (2-12, 2-9) travels to Mechanicsburg Thursday.

Lower Dauphin 1, Mifflin County 0

Second half

LD — Bryce Hickey (Blake Cassel), 31:57

Shots: LD 19-3. Corners: LD 8-2. Saves: LD-3 (Axel Grater); MC-14 (Conner Zimmerman)

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